CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Action, Thriller
  • 2014
  • 106 mins

Non-Stop

Film4 Non-Stop

Synopsis

Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) boards what seems to be a routine flight from New York to London, but when he receives a series of anonymous messages threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150million is transferred into an off-shore bank account, he has to snoop out the mystery hijacker from the plane’s passengers.

About

For the majority of its opening act, Non-Stop threatens to be an intelligent action thriller. We meet Neeson’s bedraggled sky cop Bill Marks getting liquored up in his car before making his way through the airport, encountering a number of his fellow passengers along the way. He has brief interactions with a few, pauses to study others, and ahead of a flight which will paint each and every person on the plane as a potential suspect or a potential victim, director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Unknown) seems to be setting up an interesting examination of post-9/11 airport profiling.

When the plot takes flight, though, that impression fades slightly, but instead Serra presents the makings of a tense, efficient thriller in the vein of Phone Booth crossed with Air Force One. As Marks begins to receive instructions, threats and demands over a secure network on his phone from someone else on the flight, he (and by extension, the audience) finds himself constantly one step behind the mystery antagonist. Even within the first frantic 20-minute period there are unexpected twists and turns and an unremittingly high level of tension, and the question is whether Serra can keep it up.

In terms of the tension he absolutely can, but he does so by turning the film into a kind of elaborate, high-stakes game of Guess Who? Gone is any hint of cleverness, gone is any attempt to explore its themes below surface level, gone is the pretence that this is anything more than a dumb, fun thriller. Instead the Air Marshal dashes around the plane like a madman attempting to figure out whether the hijacker could be the friendly redhead (Julianne Moore), the angry bald man (Corey Stoll), the sweet Brit (Michelle Dockery), or any of the other recognisable faces aboard the flight - all the while trying to dispel suspicion that he, in fact, is the hijacker. It’s ridiculous really, but it’s also an awful lot of fun.

Marks is the kind of unbelievably incompetent law official who acts first and thinks later. As soon as he uncovers a new clue that potentially incriminates another passenger, he immediately (and often violently) confronts that passenger and barks the reasons for his suspicion right at them. But even as his recklessness rises exponentially, so too does the film’s silliness and it just sort of works.

It would be easy to doubt whether Collet-Serra knows what he’s doing – whether the humour’s intentional, whether he’s purposely made something that’s so bad it’s good – but somehow, despite it all, his slick direction sustains the thrills and ensures the mystery elements remain compelling too. As the film builds towards a bombastic climax, you’re still desperate to find out whodunit, howtheydunit and whytheydunit. The resolution probably won’t make a lick of sense, mind, but that’s all part of Non-Stop’s charm.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Anson Mount, Linus Roache, Omar Metwally, Shea Whigham, Lupita Nyong'o, Nate Parker, Michelle Dockery, Corey Stoll, Scoot McNairy, Jason Butler Harner
  • Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
  • Writer: John W Richardson, Ryan Engle, Christopher Roach
  • Producer: Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona, Joel Silver
  • Photographer: Flavio Mart??nez Labiano
  • Composer: John Ottman

In a nutshell

Ludicrously entertaining. Wait, no, ludicrous and entertaining; a slice of sublime nonsense.

by Joe Cunningham

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Palo Alto

    Palo Alto

    First-time writer-director Gia Coppola adapts James Francos collection of linked short stories that tell of teenagers struggles with life, love and vice

  • Film4 The Judge

    The Judge

    In small-town Indiana, the local judge (Robert Duvall) is convicted of murder. Can his estranged big city lawyer son (Robert Downey Jr.), who specialises in getting crooks off the hook, save the day?

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Rent now on Film4od

Available to rent for £3.99

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • "Our lives are defined by opportunities; even the ones we miss." Up next at 5.40pm, Brad Pitt stars in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

  • @Stocks82 Original!

  • @Stocks82 Yup, we have a few lined up for Halloween weekend, including The Evil Dead!

  • @flowri You're very welcome!

  • Up next at 1pm is magical fantasy gem Stardust. From the archive, here's our interview with director Matthew Vaughn: http://t.co/xVWjL0c3tI

Share